2005-05-12 / Top Stories

Pier Recreational Area Renovations Are On Tap

By Dara Mormile

A Gateway National Recreation Area park ranger gave a lecture about Canarsie Pier last Saturday and announced that renovations to the adjacent picnic and playground sites will get an extensive makeover.

Renovations are expected to begin within the next several months and include ten new grills in the picnic area. The toddler playground will be resurfaced with safer, recycled materials and will be better maintained to keep it cleaner than it has been.

According to park ranger John Daskalakis (at right), Gateway anticipates assistance from local groups, like Canarsie AWARE, a local youth organization, to help with future maintenance efforts as it has in the past.

“The volunteers from AWARE have done a wonderful job cleaning all over the park, and we know they will come down here to help with some of the restoration measures,” he said. “Volunteers are our most reliable source of cleanup.”

Daskalakis also spoke about the Jamaica Bay experimental marsh restoration project, which began in 2003.

“In Jamaica Bay the marshlands are losing sediment quicker than it’s being replaced,” said Daskalakis. “The results are that marsh grasses are drowning and marsh islands are sinking.”

The experimental restoration of two acres of salt marsh began on Big Egg Marsh, located east of Canarsie on the southern end of the Jamaica Bay wildlife refuge. The goal of the project is to raise the marsh’s elevation to provide a more suitable surface for marsh grass growth as well as sustaining wildlife.

Sand has been dredged from an adjacent creek and spread over the surface. Volunteers have helped plant over 20,000 plants in new sediment layers and, according to Daskalakis, are showing growth.

Wildlife, such as birds, crabs and horseshoe crabs, has been utilizing the new sand and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers plans to restore many acres of Jamaica Bay’s salt marsh lands over the next few years.

Also discussed were potential plans for the abandoned building that formerly housed the restaurant, Abbracciamento On The Pier. Daskalakis said bids are still being placed on the property, which has been unoccupied for several years.

Gateway is taking suggestions from area residents about what they would like to see in the park. Anyone with a suggestion is advised to call 1-718-338-3799. Volunteers wishing to help with the cleanup should call Gateway volunteer coordinator Marisol Soto at 1-718-354-4564.

If you’re interested in learning more about Canarsie Pier and what is being done to improve the recreational facilities at the site, join Gateway National Park lectures on the pier scheduled for June 4, July 2, and August 6.

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